What do you do when you need to be creative, but don’t have time? Dear Dad has the answer.
Dear Dad, I’ve really been feeling pretty unfulfilled lately, and not in a “my husband doesn’t love me enough” way. It is more like I just feel like I should be doing something, anything more creative. I’m having a hard time deciding what that is. I used to be a tattoo artist, and absolutely loved my job. I stopped doing it because the hours and times were way too much, and I never saw my little one (not to mention the guilt trips from my mother on never being around).
I now work 2 jobs, one outside the home as a part time cake decorator/part time grocery associate, and another at-home dispatch job the other 3 days. I’m also taking care of 2 kids, and making dinner every night for my family, and being the primary cleaning person as well. My husband does help, maybe not as much as I’d like, but he does help.
My problem lies in feeling like I have no time to try to be creative in the first place. I would love to be able to maybe make it where I only work 2 days out of my home (the 2 days a week I’m actually “allowed” to do my cake decorating at work) and spend some time making things to sell in an Etsy store or something, but we can’t afford to take the monetary hit while waiting to see if it gets off the ground. Then there’s the issue of buying supplies for something that may or may not work out. It feel like as much of a gamble as doing at home sales like Avon or Scentsy (no offense to anyone that’s done it, I myself sold Avon for about a year). I keep seeing all these things online that people are making and selling and making good money off of them, but I’m so nervous about doing it. I’ve also thought about trying to go back to school since I never went to college, but everything that I could see myself being happy doing for the rest of my life doesn’t seem reasonable.
I can’t justify possibly putting my family into debt to go to school for something that may or may not be lucrative when I’m done, and I’m feeling really lost right now. I feel like I’ve lost my creativity somewhere with being a mom and a wife (it probably ran off with my sanity, ha!). It is just really a bummer and I’m not sure what to do or where to go from here. [stomps foot and flails arms a la threenager style] I just wanna make pretty things and get paid for it!
Dear ‘Creative Soul Sister’,
There is a lot going on in your question, but I believe there is a common theme: you are a very creative person desperately in need of “me” time. I, like you, don’t create because I want to—I create because I have to. I have been an aspiring artist my entire life—as an actor, as a singer/songwriter, as a chef, and ultimately as a writer (and I knew precociously this was how my path would unfold).
I experienced a creative pressure build-up within my soul similar to yours several years back. I had shelved my music aspirations to tend to my family after my twins were born and my wife had congestive heart failure. I was taking care of three kids all day, going to work at a call center at night, and then covering the night shift with the twins when I got home at two a.m., only to awake at 6:00 a.m. to start it all again. After burning the candle at both ends for nearly two years, I had a creative (and psychological) snap. I had to have “me” time—even if it meant taking time from my other responsibilities. My wife was given a clean bill of health, and the two of us had a long talk and agreed that we both need “me” time. I would have from when I got home from work on weekends until whenever I went to sleep, and she would wake up with the girls. I would then let her have a few hours in the afternoon – to sleep, watch movies, read, or go out with her friends. This arrangement has worked wonders for us both individually and for our marriage.
My advice, ‘Creative’, is to have a discussion with your husband and figure out a similar arrangement. You need time for yourself each week to let your creative juices flow – in whatever format you choose. You could take up tattooing on the side, or expand your cake decorating into a private business. I think the key struggle for you (assuming your husband sees what he will gain by agreeing to this), is to NOT feel guilty for taking that time for yourself. I suggest you create a blog (it is free), and then a related Facebook page (also free). Start posting pictures of your cakes and your tattoo art and “blog” about it. Perhaps it could lead to something that is a paid gig? At minimum, you are going to have a “canvas” on which you can express yourself, get some feedback and validation—and perhaps a second chance at a creative career.
Please feel free to email me at the address you submitted your question if you need help setting things up. Best of luck to you—and be sure to share your blog and Facebook page links here if you decide to take that route!
A lot of couples struggle with work/life balance and division of labor, and I believe most forget to incorporate “me” time. I can personally attest to the fact that giving a few hours when I can is certainly worth the few hours I receive. Do you have “me” time incorporated in your schedule?
This post originally appeared at Dear Dad. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Getty Images